over­diag­nose & over­med­i­cated?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Front Page - By Mar­got Ber­tels­mann

ADHD – the four let­ters that are enough to strike ter­ror into the hearts of most par­ents. Af­ter all, the con­di­tion is thought to af­fect one in ten chil­dren, mostly boys, lead­ing to poor aca­demic achieve­ment, so­cial iso­la­tion and un­happy kids. But “fear is a tooth­less dog” goes the say­ing, and you only need to take a peek in­side the jaw to feel re­lief. So let’s look in­side the jaws of at­ten­tion deficit and hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD), and see if the stigma can be less­ened once we have in­ves­ti­gated the ins and outs of this mis­un­der­stood, rou­tinely over­diag­nosed, of­ten mis­man­aged – and yet treat­able – con­di­tion.

what is it?

Psy­chi­a­trists use their Di­ag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual (DSM) to help them clas­sify and di­ag­nose men­tal ill­nesses and con­di­tions. In the fifth edi­tion of the DSM, ADHD can be di­ag­nosed if chil­dren show six of the fol­low­ing symptoms, from ei­ther or both the inat­ten­tion and the hy­per­ac­tiv­ity and im­pul­siv­ity cri­te­ria, by the time they are 12 years old:

inat­ten­tion An ab­nor­mally short con­cen­tra­tion span.

A fre­quent re­sis­tance to sus­tained men­tal ef­fort, es­pe­cially with bor­ing or repet­i­tive tasks.

Eas­ily dis­tracted. Marked for­get­ful­ness. A ten­dency to lose things eas­ily and fre­quently.

Dif­fi­culty or­gan­is­ing tasks and poor plan­ning.

Not lis­ten­ing prop­erly to given in­struc­tions.

A ten­dency to rush work, giv­ing poor at­ten­tion to de­tail and mak­ing fre­quent but care­less mis­takes.

Of­ten not com­plet­ing tasks.

hy­per­ac­tiv­ity Con­stantly on the go, as if driven by a mo­tor.

Runs about or climbs on things ex­ces­sively.

Rest­less, un­able to stay seated for even short pe­ri­ods. Fid­gets ex­ces­sively. Ex­ces­sively talk­a­tive. Plays loudly.

im­pul­siv­ity Of­ten in­ter­rupts or in­trudes on oth­ers. Can­not wait his turn. Blurts out an­swers be­fore the ques­tion is com­pleted.

It is quite nor­mal to dis­play “first year med­i­cal stu­dent” syn­drome and di­ag­nose your child on the spot as you read this list, es­pe­cially with vague-sound­ing symptoms such as th­ese. All chil­dren do dis­play th­ese be­hav­iours, age ap­pro­pri­ately, from time to time. So bear in mind that th­ese symptoms must cause sig­nif­i­cant im­pair­ment to your child’s daily func­tion­ing, and must not be bet­ter ex­plained by an­other men­tal dis­or­der – which is im­por­tant when you con­sider 40 per­cent of boys with ADHD also have op­po­si­tional de­fi­ant dis­or­der (a per­sis­tent pat­tern of re­bel­lious be­hav­iour).

Chil­dren with ADHD are im­paired in their school­work as well as in their so­cial func­tion­ing, and are dis­tressed and de­mor­alised. Still, judg­ing th­ese symptoms is

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